Monday, 24 July 2017

Didn't we have a lovely time...

... the day we went to Slaithwaite?! The weekend before last I was up in Yorkshire at Spa Mill, Slaithwaite; home of Stylecraft yarns. Some of the Blogstars went on a guided tour around Salts Mill on Friday afternoon to look at the David Hockney exhibition. It looked amazing and I wish that I had been able to go too. Pesky day job! I arrived later that day and was able to enjoy the breathtaking views from the hotel. Did I mention before that the hotel has a helicopter landing space? Rather impressive. I wonder if it ever gets used?!

That evening, we all met up in the bar, each of us with our current knitting or crochet project in tow. It's so nice to be able to spend time with people who don't bat an eyelid when you start knitting. And of course, we carried on crafting between courses at the dinner table. 

From left to right- Juliet Bernard, Annabelle Hill, Sarah Shrimpton, Heather Leal, Lucia Dunn and Catherine Bligh

From left to right - Edward (Catherine's brother), Sandra Paul, Kathryn Senior and Phil Saul

Clockwise from the left - Sandra, Kathryn, Phil, me, Juliet, Annabelle, Sarah, Heather, Lucia and Catherine

Before I went to bed, I spent an hour making yarn pegs as you do! Lucy from Attic24 had been at the art exhibition in the afternoon and had very kindly sent me samples of all the colours I was missing in the Special DK range - how lovely was that?! My little yarn pegs are such a delight to me and are really useful when it comes to planning colour schemes.

The next morning, we headed down to the Mill where first of all we chatted and caught up with each others' goings on, before sitting down to a presentation of all the new things that Stylecraft has in the pipeline for the coming season. I can't reveal too much yet, but let me just say that there are some seriously gorgeous yarns heading into the shops. There are a few new yarns that have just been released though...

Tweedy is a new DK weight yarn made up of 74% premium acrylic and 26% cotton in four lovely colourways. We saw some garments made up in the yarn and they did look good. I rather like the bluey-green one on the right. 

Three, yes three! new colours in the gorgeous Head over Heels sock yarn. I say sock yarn, but it could equally well be used for shawls and cowls as the wool is really soft. I am a total sucker for self-striping sock yarns and the Head over Heels socks I've knit so far have washed and worn very well. Can't wait to cast one of these on!

And finally, four new colours in the Batik yarn range. From left to right, silver, lupin, mint and rose. I really love the soft, colourwashed look of this yarn. You might remember that I used some last year to make a scarf when Batik was first launched. I'm already thinking how nice another scarf would look in more muted shades - you can never have enough scarfs in my opinion!

And just look at how gorgeous all the colours look together. I want to start playing with them NOW!

We were joined by Emma Varnam and Julia Marsh on Saturday morning as well as the overseas Blogstars Angela, Zelna, Polly Plum, and Anne and Michelle through the wonders of technology. Sadly Jane Crowfoot and Lucy from Attic24 weren't able to be with us and we missed them. 

Over a tea break, we were able to look more closely at the new yarns and some of the designs because there was a huge display set up ready for the the following day (more of this later) and we also got to admire some of Lucia's beautiful blankets that she'd brought along with her. Annabelle took the laptop with her so that our friends on Skype could see everything too!

Then, every yarn lover's dream, we got to play with all the colours of Stylecraft Special DK! I can't reveal too much at the moment, but you will get to find out about it later in the year. Needless to say, it was tremendous fun picking out different colour combinations.

After lunch, we were lucky enough to have a visit from a member of the Ring of Tatters who taught us the basics. We were all given a starter kit and DVD to take home with us too. There were lots of beautiful examples to inspire us ...

I didn't find it very instinctive and had to concentrate pretty hard, but Kathryn was a real whizz and had the basics mastered very quickly. 

Before people started heading off for home, we had a group photo taken...

From the left, Heather, Sarah, Phil, Lucia, me, Sandra, Kathryn, Emma, Julia and Catherine in the front. It really was an absolute pleasure to spend time with this wonderful group of creative people and I can't wait for our next meet up! We all left laden with bags of yarn to play with - my mind was buzzing with ideas and I'm sure it was the same for everyone! 

But that wasn't the end of the weekend for me! Lucia and I had been asked to stay on for another day as Stylecraft were holding their first day for Retailers at the Mill. So I set up a display of my knitting designs next to Lucia's blankets.

It was an odd but proud moment when I saw a giant poster of my Foothold socks that I designed for Stylecraft earlier this year. 

The retailers were given a tour of the Mill, and also got to watch the same presentation that we'd seen the day before showing all the new yarns and designs for the coming season. It was great to talk with them about our role as Blogstars and we met some lovely people. I was amazed by how far some people had travelled but I think they had a worthwhile trip. All too soon it was over and I returned home, high on yarn fumes! xxx

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Tour de Fleece day 23

It's the last day of the Tour today. I've enjoyed spending time spinning each day and will try to spin a little more regularly rather than leave the spinning wheel gathering dust! I  love how the puni is spinning and might look for some more at Fibre-East next weekend. Pop back tomorrow because I'll be telling you all about my weekend with the Stylecraft blogstars. xxx

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Tour de Fleece day 22

I decided to go with the punis as they intrigued me! I've never spun one before so I googled how to do it and the general advice was to treat it like a roving and draft it out a little before spinning. I have four punis so I am going to spin each one fine and then ply all four together to make a gloriously colourful skein of yarn. The colours are so, so pretty.

Here's how it's looking so far - ignore the blue as that's just the leader peeping through. It reminds me a bit of a sunset at the moment. Tomorrow is the last day of the Tour de Fleece, but I'm hoping to keep spinning a little more regularly over the holidays. (I know, I say that every year, don't I?!) But I will definitely get this all spun up and share it with you over the coming days. xxx

Friday, 21 July 2017

Tour de Fleece day 21

Today was the last day of school for the children and it's been an exhausting week. I have been lazy this evening and instead of spinning, I have been rummaging in my fibre stash picking out possible fibre to use for the next spinning project. There's a bluey-grey gradient of alpaca, seacell and silk, some moody grey Polwarth, camel and silk and some colourful punis which have mixed fibres including sparkles. Which do you like the best? xxx

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Tour de Fleece day 20

I have yarn! A luvverly squishy skein that is incredibly soft. I lost count of the yardage when I was winding it around the niddy noddy, partly because I was having to fend off Flo's nudges and cheek rubs! But there should be plenty for a cosy cowl. Something I can snuggle inside. The colours are really soothing too - my fellow Stylecraft blogstar Kathryn (CrafternoonTreats) had the batts made specially for me after Mr JK died and the colours were chosen to represent the range of emotions I might be feeling. Thank you Kathryn for such a kind and thoughtful gift. xxx

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Tour de Fleece day 19

Plying has begun! I woke up early this morning because of an almighty storm, so came downstairs and got started. I've had to break the yarn because the first bobbin was full, so there's either a lot of yarn or it's quite plump! More tomorrow. xxx

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Tour de Fleece day 18

Hellooooooooo! I've missed a couple of days of spinning because I was away at the weekend at Stylecraft HQ, meeting up with the other blogstars. It was a fabulous, busy and inspiring weekend and I'll tell you all about it soon. But for today, you'll have to make do with a photo of my spinning. I have finished spinning up the batt so plying will start tomorrow. I'm interested to see how it turns out. Initially I was going to spin a thicker single, but my standard spinning weight has won through yet again and it will need plying to make it thick enough to use for a cowl or hat. I'll have to dig out my homemade lazy kate as it gives me more control than the one that comes on the wheel. I find that the bobbin spins too much and the yarn unwinds and then tries to ply back on itself, resulting in a tangled mess! xxx

Friday, 14 July 2017

Tour de Fleece days 13 and 14

Crazy busy here - lots going on at school for the end of term as well as getting myself packed for a weekend in Yorkshire at Stylecraft HQ. Spun a little yesterday evening and this morning - only a smidgeon of the batt left now which all being well, I will spin on Sunday when I'm back home. Have a good weekend, whatever you're up to. xxx

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Tour de Fleece day 12

More of the same! Can you see the progress from yesterday?! Help from Flo as usual! xxx

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Tour de Fleece day 11

Back to spinning after yesterday's rest day and naturally Flo was there to lend a paw! With luck I will get this batt all spun up before the end of the week. I'm off up to Yorkshire for a Stylecraft Blogstars weekend so there won't be a great deal of spinning going on! xxx

Monday, 10 July 2017

Blossom and Yarn 2017

I can't believe it's two years since the first Blossom and Yarn festival. You can read all about Blossom and Yarn 2015 here. This year, the theme of the festival was The Creation '7 Days and Beyond' with each of 6 churches in the Wayland Benefice taking on a day in the Creation and interpreting it in their own way. The artistic director, Lois Gill, has obviously worked tirelessly since 2015 with a team of knitters and other volunteers, both local from further afield, to produce not only thousands of knitted squares, but also flowers, birds, fish and much, much more. It was great to read that lots of the squares from the 2015 festival had been recycled for this year's event. So sit back and be prepared to be amazed by this wonderful interpretation of the Creation of our world. I make no apologies for the photo-heavy post - I took more than 200 photos and it was very hard to pick just a few!

St Margaret's, Breckles - Night and Day

Here, the church tried to capture the feeling of total blackness as the Earth was formed and Day and Night were created. Black arches lead to light and a host of angels at the altar. 

SS Peter and Paul's Church, Griston - the formation of Land and Sea

The mesmerising sound of waves gently lapping on the shore greeted you as you entered the church, with a stunning 'wall' of sea, as well as plenty of lush plants and flowers. The oak tree at the altar was amazing, as were the beautiful clumps of foxgloves and other flowers.

St Martin's, Thompson - Light and the passing of the Seasons

Unfortunately, the church had to remain closed because of extensive renovation and repair that is underway, so visitors had to stay outside the church. They were able to walk through four seasonal arches and enter the porch where the sun, moon and stars were in evidence. Visitors were also able to stop and browse at the Blossom and Yarn Market Place as well as enjoy a cup of tea and cake. (Actually, you could do this at each venue, but I showed restraint and only had one slice here!) The church is in a beautiful setting as you can see from the first photo.

Holy Trinity, Great Hockham - the creatures of the oceans and the birds of the air

As people entered the church, there were lots of gasps and oohs and aahs because it was quite breathtaking. Shoals of fish swam around pillars, jelly fish were dangling by the organ, the pews were full of coral and seaweed and the altar was a cacophony of birdsong. 

St Botolph's, Stow Bedon - the animals of Earth

There was an incredible range of animals all around the church, from the tiniest harvest mouse to the mighty elephant with a wonderful focus on British farm animals in one corner of the church. Koala bears, sheep, moles, snakes - this church had pretty much every animal you could think of!

Holy Cross, Caston - The Garden of Eden

There was a real sense of peace and tranquillity as you walked around this church. Fruits and flowers were abundant, and Adam and Eve were keeping an eye on things. I resisted the temptation to peep under Adam's fig leaf, although giggles from a group of ladies lead me to believe that he was anatomically correct! 

The festival is still on today so if you're around in west Norfolk, please go and take a look. I'm sure you'll have a fabulous time. And I''m already wondering what the theme for Blossom and Yarn 2019 will be, aren't you?! xxx